Who Left That Door Open?

Luther Blackmon
Clermont, Florida

My old friend, Brother Ira Rice Jr., is all kerflummoxed over the growth of liberalism and modernism in the church. And well he might be. What he sees is no mirage. It is the real thing. But what Ira does not see is that he is part of the trouble.

I do not receive his paper, "Contending for the Faith," but in the February issue of "Locust Light," bulletin of the Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee Church, Herschel Patton quotes from it. It seems that Brother Rice heard Herschel preaching on the radio concerning threats of apostasy that arise from within the church, and some of what he heard he did not like. He said, "it was not until the closing moments of his (Patton's) broadcast in which he began attacking such things as church sponsored recreational and dining activities, playgrounds, camps, kindergartens, church founded and supported institutions such as schools for edifying, hospitals for visiting the sick, and asylum type homes for orphans, old folks, and unwed mothers, that I could find anything to take issue with." Ira calls our opposition to these things "unprofitable contentions," and wishes that we might give up these objections and stand with him and the others who share his views.

He has now finished his third volume of Axe on the Root, I am told. He has said some good things in the two volumes now in print. It is unfortunate that he cannot see that these things which he so fervently supports and defends are just as indefensible and unscriptural as those things on which he is using his "axe." Through the same door by which his church supported schools, hospitals, etc. enter, have come, and will continue to come, the things he opposes.

I am reminded of the answer a small boy gave the teacher of an arithmetic class: "If you had 100 goats and one should get out of the pen and leave, how many would you have left"? asked the teacher. "None" replied the boy. "Oh, yes," said the teacher, "you would have 99 left. One from 100 leaves 99." "Teacher" answered the boy, "your know rithmetic but you don't know goats. When one goat gets out they all get out."

Since Brother Rice and those who share his views, made a door in scriptural authority large enough to bring in church supported schools, hospitals, etc. they should not be too surprised if some more goats get IN through that same hole. Goats like "speaking in tongues," "denying the verbal inspiration of the Bible," or, like the preacher at the recent "Preacher's Workshop" in Abilene, who urged the brethren to "involve themselves in the same worldliness as found around them." He called it "holy worldliness." You'll find that in the Bible just below honest thieves.

As for me, no thanks! I think I shall just continue with my "unprofitable contentions," and smile as sweetly as I can when I remember from time to time that the greatest growth the church ever enjoyed was during the first fifty years of its existence, when there was not a single church supported hospital, orphan home, school, or preacher with a Ph.D.

July 22, 1971